THUNDER BAY — Distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is expected to begin in local long-term care homes in a matter of days.
The hospital – the designated regional distribution centre for the vaccine – made the disclosure Tuesday.
It had been waiting for the results of tests in southern Ontario as to whether the vaccine can safely be moved for administering off-site.
"Given that the Pfizer vaccine is now confirmed to be movable, we aim to be supporting vaccination in LTC homes by the end of this week," said a statement released on behalf of Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, the president and CEO of TBRHSC.
The locations where the vaccine will be delivered will be determined by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit in collaboration with long-term care homes.
Under the guidelines established by the Ontario Vaccination Task Force, vaccinations are prioritized to long-term care staff, residents and essential caregivers due to the higher risk of infection and serious illness from exposure to COVID-19.
Crocker Ellacott said the hospital hopes to have the LTC home phase complete by mid-February before moving to the next priority groups as directed by the province.
To date, TBRHSC has vaccinated about 900 people – most being LTC workers – but also to vulnerable local hospital staff and to vaccinators, individuals who are preparing to deliver vaccine to First Nations.
This week, the hospital plans to begin administering the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to those who have already received the first dose.
It said it has confirmation that more vaccine will be arriving this month, and added "we have been advocating for larger quantities moving forward."
The hospital's statement emphasized that it must follow the direction of the provincial task force in terms of who gets the COVID-19 and when.